In The Know: Oklahoma ranks 3rd in poor bridges; Medicaid opponents want to bar views of doctors; hundreds to leave prison…

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Meet OK Policy: Policy Director Carly Putnam: Oklahoma Policy Institute has grown a lot in the past few years. From humble beginnings in 2008, we now have a staff of 19, including talented individuals who focus on a wide range of policy issues, intensive data analysis, outreach, communications, events and operations, and more. To give you a better idea of who we are and what we all do, we are running an OK Policy Blog series highlighting our staffers. For this edition, here’s Policy Director Carly Putnam. [OK Policy]

HB 1269 makes SQ 780 retroactive but leaves drug issues unresolved: In 2016, Oklahoma voters made simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony. By voting yes to State Question 780, Oklahomans expressed a clear desire to prioritize treatment over incarceration for those struggling with addiction. [Damion Shade / Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

Report ranks Oklahoma third in nation in poor bridges: A recently released report indicates Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for the highest percentage of bridges in poor condition. The information was released by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks from Federal Highway Administration data. Large companies including Amazon, FedEx, UPS and Anheuser-Busch are lobbying Congress to allow heavier trucks and longer double-trailer trucks, according to the coalition. [Tulsa World]

Medicaid expansion opponents seek to bar views of medical providers in court case: A conservative organization hoping to kill a proposed Medicaid expansion question wants to block the state’s largest medical groups from weighing in on the current legal fight. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs urged the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday not to accept input from doctors, nurses and hospitals that support Medicaid expansion and the proposed state ballot question. [The Oklahoman]

State turns focus onto J&J sales efforts: For six hours in a downtown Norman courtroom, a corporate representative for Johnson & Johnson and an attorney for the state of Oklahoma debated the company’s sales practices. [Norman Transcript] The State of Oklahoma is accusing Johnson & Johnson and a group of affiliated opioid manufacturers of creating a multibillion-dollar public health crisis that has led to thousands of deaths and addictions. [The Oklahoman]

Hundreds to be released from prison under new state law: Hundreds of people in Oklahoma prisons may be released in time for the holidays this year after passage of a new law that will retroactively reduce some felony convictions to misdemeanors. Lawmakers who authored House Bill 1269, signed into law this week by Gov. Kevin Stitt, estimated that 500-800 men and women will be subject to early release. [Journal Record ????]

Judge orders juveniles be removed from OK County jail: A big change hit the Oklahoma County Jail this week. Deputies transferred eight inmates from the maximum security facility to a nearby juvenile detention center. “We received a court order from Judge Prince, that allowed for the removal of all juveniles from the Oklahoma county detention center,” said Mark Myers, an information officer with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. [News9]

Oklahoma County trust has three options for managing the county jail: Oklahoma County’s three commissioners recently voted to create a jail trust to provide increased transparency and oversight of operations and financials at the county jail, which is plagued with serious issues like inmate deaths, escapes, overcrowding and building deterioration. The next step is to decide on management. [The Oklahoman]

More than 40 Oklahoma officers banned for sex crime convictions in last five years, records show: The crimes range from rape, to sexual battery, to child sexual abuse or revenge porn. The guilty parties are from law enforcement agencies across the state — from metro departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, to smaller outposts like Carter County, Wewoka or Vinita. [The Frontier]

Kids have long road to heal after Oklahoma police shooting: Asia Jacobs, affectionately known as “Mama’s little helper,” struggles to fill that role since police officers opened fire on her mother’s pickup truck outside an Oklahoma food bank and wounded the girl and two of her siblings. A bullet pierced the left frontal lobe of 4-year-old Asia’s brain. She no longer helps her mother keep her younger brother and sister in line because she has a hard time sitting still herself. [The Oklahoman]

Juvenile Affairs agency works to restore youth services in southern Oklahoma counties: The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs is working to restore core youth treatment services to three southern Oklahoma counties that have remained underserved for more than a year. Citing consistent state budget cuts, the board of the Stephens County Youth and Family Services center voted to cease operations in March 2018. [The Oklahoman]

Pemberton embraces now role as chief juvenile court judge: After the death of a beloved chief judge, a new head of the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center has opened court. District Judge Trevor Pemberton began overseeing juvenile cases at the north Oklahoma City facility in mid-May, following his appointment by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Noma Gurich. [The Oklahoman]

Budget includes change to district attorney funding: The Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt made a change to district attorneys’ funding for next fiscal year in a move the governor said will ensure the prosecutors aren’t reliant on high fines, fees and court costs that have “created a debtor’s prison.” Those who advocated for the change said the goal was to eliminate a conflict of interest between administering justice and generating revenue. [The Oklahoman]

Meth plan targets Oklahoma’s ‘No. 1 killer’: While national attention is focused on the state’s opioid trial, a less visible killer continues to ravage Oklahoma. Methamphetamine took the lives of 327 Oklahomans in 2017, an increase of 600% in 10 years. “It’s still climbing today and is a huge issue,” said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. “It’s our No. 1 killer if you look at a single drug.” [The Oklahoman]

Wayne Greene: Oklahoma’s voodoo boondoggle wasted billions and left us unprepared for economic realities: Oklahoma could have nearly $2.8 billion more to spend on things like schools, colleges and prisons, and the state’s experimentation with supply-side economic voodoo for nearly a decade is a big reason why. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

President Trump declares disaster for Tulsa, Wagoner, Muskogee counties; SBA loans available: President Donald Trump declared a disaster in Oklahoma on Saturday, making federal assistance available to those affected by severe storms, tornadoes and floods in Tulsa, Muskogee and Wagoner counties. [Tulsa World] Flood update: Arkansas River has ‘officially moved out of flood stage,’ Bynum says; rain in forecast as crews fix erosion, sinkholes near levees. [Tulsa World] Presidential candidate O’Rourke gets at look at Tulsa County flood damage. [Tulsa World]

SeeWorth board gives up charter, contract with OKCPS – closed for now: The SeeWorth Academy charter school board voted Friday morning to give up its charter and end its current contract with Oklahoma City Public Schools. Free Press broke the story about SeeWorth being in serious trouble with the Oklahoma State Department of Education Friday, May 24. [Free Press OKC]

What do an Oklahoma senator and a TCC student have in common? A pathway for racial reconciliation: An Oklahoma senator and a Tulsa Community College student may seem like an odd pair to close out a three-day symposium focused on racial reconciliation. But as it turned out, U.S. Sen. James Lankford and recent Booker T. Washington High School alumnus Gage Banks had a lot to say about overcoming systemic racism and building a stronger community. [Tulsa World]

Three African American women vying for Oklahoma Democratic Party chief: Oklahoma Democrats are set to elect a new state party leader next week after an election year in which they lost more ground in the state Legislature and slid further into the red financially. Three African American women, all with years of experience in state politics, have been actively campaigning for Oklahoma Democratic Party chair. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Heart Hospital to pay $2.8M to settle false-billing allegations: Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City will pay $2.8 million to settle allegations of fraudulent Medicaid billing practices, according to NBC-affiliate TV station KFOR. Whistleblower Jennifferr Baird , a registered nurse who oversaw a seven-person staff at the hospital in 2015, filed a complaint against the hospital. [Becker’s Hospital Review]

Hoskin wins Cherokee Nation principal chief race: Chuck Hoskin Jr., former secretary of state for the Cherokee Nation, has been elected principal chief, according to unofficial results of the June 1 general election. The tribe’s Election Commission posted the results in the early hours of June 2. [Cherokee Phoenix]

Quote of the Day

“The Army Corps has confirmed the heavy water load is off the levees. It is when a community is tested that you see what it is really made of. In this historic test, our community stood tall …”

-Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum, in an announcement that the Arkansas River has officially moved out of flood stage [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of inmates the Oklahoma Department of Corrections received in Fiscal Year 2018.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Corrections]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Public housing agencies oppose HUD’s plan to evict immigrant families: Housing experts say the rule would put families out on the street without substantially cutting down on waitlists. A 2016 analysis estimated that there are 1.6 million families waiting for public housing. HUD’s new rule could create tens of thousands of openings. “It won’t solve the problem that people are struggling with housing insecurity,” says Martha Galvez, a principal research associate for the Urban Institute. [Governing]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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